When my youngest son was little he was really into trains. Over a period of a few years he acquired small sets for his birthday and Christmas from many different relatives and friends. The result is that we have a large quantity of trains, tracks, and accessories. We have wooden tracks that snap together, straight tracks and curvy tracks, tracks that curve to the right and to the left, tracks that slant up and down. We have tunnels, bridges, and a bridge that can turn. We have a track with a “Stop” and “Go” sign that moves. We have ramps to put the tracks on, railroad crossing signs, trees, wooden cows, horses, and pigs, and an electrical gadget that makes train sounds.
As for trains, we have an “Imaginarium” train engine, another engine, passenger cars, cars that can carry magnetic cargo, and a caboose. Because the trains are magnetized, kids can make the trains longer or shorter, as they see fit. Altogether, there are approximately 150 train pieces. I keep all the train parts in a large, 18 gallon Rubbermaid Storage box. It is filled to the brim.
My son has grown out of playing with trains, but they are nice sets. Some day I know my future grandchildren will enjoy them. So I put the storage box in a closet. Whenever friends visit with young children, I pull out the Rubbermaid container and carefully dump the contents onto our living room floor. With a little bit of time and imagination, our living room becomes an amazing spectacle of train yard glory.
All is well until clean-up time begins. There are so many pieces, so many tracks, and trees, and trains, and ramps, and platforms! If the children put all the smaller pieces and tracks into the Tupperware first, and leave the bridges and tunnels for last (which are the biggest pieces), the bridges and tunnels won’t fit. The storage box overflows, and I can’t get the lid on. When the lid doesn’t fit securely, the container doesn’t fit into my small, tightly packed, typical Philadelphia-home closet.
If, however, the children take care of the big things first — if they start with the bridges and tunnels, and then throw in the tracks and smaller pieces, the smaller pieces fall down into the cracks between the larger ones. We are able to get everything into the Rubbermaid box. (It just fits!) I can close the lid, and then fit the container into my closet.
I bring all this up because the train sets have become a great analogy to me of a typical homeschool day.
Each day is a flurry of activity! There are lessons to do, meals to prepare, laundry to keep up with, questions to answer, bills to pay, errands to run, events to take one or more of them to, messes to clean, conflicts to address, kids to disciple, students to direct, work to check, and help to be given. And, most important of all — time with my Savior to maintain.
If I look at my full schedule and say to myself, “My day is just too full. I will have to skip spending time with my God.” Or, if I save spending time with Him for last, inevitably, the day goes by, is used up, and at the end of the day I fall to my bed, exhausted, feeling ashamed or worse, justified, that I ran out of time for my most important relationship — the one with my Lord and King.
However, if I put my time with the King first, if I make reading my Bible and prayer a priority, if I lead my children in worship, somehow, despite the myriad of activities that are scheduled for the day, everything fits in.
Lord, help me to give you my “first fruits”. In the business of life, it’s so easy to get distracted, to get interrupted, to forget or lose site of the relationship that matters most. School work with my children will last a day, a year, maybe more, but my time with you is for all eternity. Amen.
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Psalm 90:14 “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”
Deuteronomy 26:10 “and now I bring the first fruits of the soil that you, O Lord, have given me.”
Psalm 127:1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.”
Copyright April 15th, 2013 by Gwen Fredette